An essay is, in general, a literary composition that presents the author’s argument, but this definition is often vague, often overlapping with that of a brief article, a letter, a newspaper, a novel, and even a short story. Essays generally have historically been categorized either as formal and/or informal. Formal essays are written for or at academic institutions as well as for publication in a literary journal. Essays written for publication usually require the use of specialized vocabulary and the application of correct grammar. Informal essays are commonly written for entertainment purposes or to pass the time and are usually not wordy or complex. It could be said that any essay can fall into either category; some are more structured than others.
The structure of an essay depends on whether it is intended to be read as a whole, as a summary of events and themes, or to make a statement about something (the thesis statement). It is also dependent on how the essay is formatted and worded. One of the most common formats used is to simply list the thesis statements in a logical order.
The opening paragraph will generally comprise the topic sentence, the title and introduction. The title is used to draw the attention of the reader to the essay and the rest of the text is written in a single, fluid flow. After a detailed introduction, the remainder of the essay is written in the same way as the title, i.e., following the basic outline format.
The thesis statement is the central topic of the essay. The main arguments contained within the essay are supported by this statement. The body of the essay consists of the various paragraphs and the conclusion. Some authors do not use the conclusion paragraph but include a separate essay to elaborate on their arguments in the conclusion paragraph.
There are many types of essays, although, most commonly assignment of an essay involves a descriptive essay. This type of essay describes a current event (or situation) with general or particular details. Most commonly assigned these types of essays are composition courses. The author is required to write four to eight pages in length for each composition course, depending on the assignment. Most frequently the first draft of a descriptive essay will not be used. An author may revise a descriptive essay after it has been written, but not after the close of the class.
Many students have difficulty with the structure of their essay. Students who are particularly written and anxious to write essays should learn how to ask good questions, instead of dreading the prospect of asking a question. Asking good questions and making sure that your essay answers the question poses a challenge to the writer to be creative in structuring and writing the essay.